Ukraine's acting envoy to NATO: "Ukraine is the only partner to enjoy separate summit. This speaks for itself"
Acting Head of Ukraine's Mission to NATO Yehor Bozhok in an interview with UNIAN has explained in detail the agenda of the meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission at the level of heads of state and government, which will be held within the framework of the NATO summit in Warsaw: what Kyiv wants, and what the Allies can offer.
What is the agenda of meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission?
Three issues are to be considered. The first one is the security situation in Ukraine and at its borders, referring to the ongoing aggression of the Russian Federation. The steps will be discusses which Ukraine can take together with NATO as the organization in general and the Allies in particular, to return the aggressor state into the framework of international law as soon as possible and stop the mess that is happening in the temporarily occupied areas in the east of Ukraine and in the annexed Crimea.
Another focus will be the reforms Ukraine has been implementing despite the Kremlin’s [destabilizing] efforts. Despite the fact that, de facto, we have been in war with Russia, we still managed to achieve some progress in reforms, particularly in the security and defense sector.
Also, special attention will be paid to what needs to be done immediately and in the medium term. Basically, we will focus on security and defense sector. In this context, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko will present a Strategic Defense Bulletin, which was developed jointly with our NATO advisers.
The third issue on the agenda is a comprehensive assistance package aimed at strengthening our defenses and reforming the security and defense sector. Actually, all of this will make up the agenda of the meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission, and all of this should be reflected in a joint declaration to be adopted at the meeting.
What does this comprehensive assistance package include?
We are talking about forty areas of logistical, practical, and advisory support for Ukraine in reforming its defense and security sector. This document also contains commitments of the Allies and international institutions of the Alliance to allocate necessary financial resources for the implementation.
Implementation of specific projects?
In which areas will these projects be implemented?
I will not elaborate on all forty of them, I will just name some. This is the institutional reform of the security and defense sector, mainly of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff; the reform – and this is happening for the first time in the history of Ukraine-NATO cooperation – of security services, namely the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). Then there is the military-technical cooperation with the emphasis on import substitution, ridding both Ukraine and some Eastern European NATO member states of dependence on the Russian military-industrial complex. Unfortunately, this dependence lingers.
Then we talk about mine clearance. While we used to cooperate with NATO mainly in humanitarian demining, i.e., we attracted NATO’s aid for developing the capacity of the State Emergency Service, now we extend this cooperation to the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces. That is, we will be working on strengthening the capacity of relevant pyrotechnic units of the Armed Forces and related structures.
We are also talking about cyber defense and further deepening of cooperation. We are talking about strategic communication and combatting propaganda. That is, we can already start serious practical cooperation with NATO in this context, not only in the part concerning the fight against propaganda but also in the context of increasing our national capabilities. We are talking about an exchange of experience and training of the relevant structures of Ukraine and NATO in fighting hybrid threats, about energy security, particularly in the part relating to the protection of infrastructure. We are talking about joint development of strategic capabilities critical for the security of Ukraine and NATO, such as strategic air transportation, exchange of air situation data, and more. We are also talking about the restoration and reconstruction of Ukraine’s Naval Forces, development and capacity building of special operations forces, the reform of military education, setting up a new system of training of NCOs, adaptation to NATO standards in the field of education and training of military units, including joint exercises. And this is not all.
Will it be approved with a single document? How will it go?
This document is called the NATO Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine, and all I’ve told you about is in that document. We believe that it will be adopted at the Ukraine-NATO summit in Warsaw and further implemented by all specialized structures of NATO.
How will it be passed in practice? Will it be signed by the secretary-general, 28 Allies, and President Poroshenko?
No, it will be put to a vote at the meeting and through this vote, it will either be passed or not.
Is there reason to believe that it will not be approved?
If the document is put to a vote, there is always a bit of reason to think that it might not be passed.
Once the document is adopted, when will the implementation of these projects begin?
That’s a very interesting and important question. Why? Because I spoke with my Georgian colleagues. At the last NATO summit in Wales, they received something similar, but on a much smaller scale. It took them eight months to start the process of implementation of this package. And the problem was not only and actually with NATO, but with them [Georgia]. I would like to see Ukraine do it faster.
What are the means of implementation of this comprehensive assistance package?
These forty areas of logistical, practical, and advisory support will be implemented, as we expect, with the help of eight trust funds, five NATO special programs, as well as through bilateral programs and projects. However, all these mechanisms will work in a coordinated manner, and to this end, this package stipulates that a strategic level special adviser will be working in Ukraine to coordinate NATO's assistance.
Speaking about the political aspect of the meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission ...
Ukraine is the only partner of the Alliance, which will hold a separate meeting at the highest level. This speaks for itself. We hope (and there is every reason to talk about it) that the unanimous, consolidated, and unconditional support for Ukraine will be confirmed at this summit. In particular, this will be reflected in a joint statement. Then an absolutely adequate assessment of Russia’s actions will be given. We also look forward to a clear definition of the mechanism for the implementation of the Minsk agreements and commitments undertaken by Ukraine. I mean the local elections in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions only provided that there is an adequate security situation, and only under international supervision and in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation.
We hope that following the summit, the Allies will also agree to further deepen special partnership with our country, taking into account all previous decisions, including those taken at the Bucharest Summit.
Do we mean the prospects of NATO membership?
We mean all the decisions because today, we would like to consider special partnership with NATO in the context of all previous decisions and all previous instruments, mechanisms, and formats that have been established before.
Will the Ukrainian side insist that the joint statement must include a notion recorded at the Bucharest Summit that, if the necessary criteria are met, Ukraine will become a NATO member state?
We believe that the decision of the Bucharest summit is in place, and it has not been canceled. But we also take into account today’s priority in our relationship and cooperation with the Alliance. We believe that today, our priority is the reform and attraction of maximum support from NATO for the development of our defense and for implementation of reforms in line with the NATO standards. This will be our focus at this stage.
However, we would like to deepen special partnership with NATO, and we would like to gradually move to a level of partnership with the Alliance as Sweden and Finland have.
What do you mean?
On Monday, NATO Secretary General said that heads of state and government of Sweden and Finland were invited to one of the meetings of the North Atlantic Council. To a question “Why?” the answer was that’s because the Alliance has special partnership relations with these countries, called the Enhance Opportunity program. We would like to start moving in this direction based on the results of the upcoming summit.